Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seasonal Spring Treats

Bleatings from EnviRambo.




So you want to eat seasonally, but it is Spring and not much is growing in your garden. Maybe you have a few greens, or some other cold-weather crop. My garden is not even planted, much less ready to harvest anything. That does not mean there is not anything available. Two foods abundant locally right now are Morels and rhubarb.


Morels sell for big bucks, but with a little education and a lot of luck you can find them for free. Foraging is great. It gets you outside, provides some exercise, and best of all FREE FOOD! Last year I scored 17 pounds of the little gems. This year the weather has been wacky and unseasonable warm. We did not get out early enough, but did still find a few.


I prepared a few fresh in last night's cream sauce and decided to preserve the rest. Last year I froze the extra, but since giving up Ziplocs and purchasing a dehydrator, drying was the route to go. They took a lot less time than I thought, only a few hours at 110 degrees. When it comes time to use them, all that is needed is a little warm water for reconstitution.

Finding Morels is a bit of a mystery. What is known is that they pop up in Spring, like moisture, and are usually found near dead or dying elm trees. A quick internet search will bring up an abundance of websites dedicated to finding the elusive Morchella. Morels.com is a useful one. Monitoring the discussion board for your state can give insight to when Morels are appearing. TheGreatMorel.com is another good one, offering tips on finding, harvesting, preparing, and preserving, even information on ticks. Luckily, we did not find any of these.

If you are not feeling up to trekking through the woods to forage mushrooms, there is another local food you can find right out in the open. Rhubarb.


Rhubarb grows like a weed in many areas. Some people have so much of it they are happy to give some away. This is the person you need to find. I was able to barter a six pack of beer for as much rhubarb as I wanted. I gladly filled my basket with the tart stalks.

Upon cutting to prepare for freezing I quickly realized that my lack of Ziplocs was going to pose a challenge. Luckily I have a stockpile of yogurt containers in the basement. They take up more room, but can be easily stacked in the freezer. Before placing in the yogurt containers I freeze the rhubarb cuts individually on baking sheets until hard, then transfer to the containers. This way the pieces stay loose and are easily removed and measured for baking tasty treats.

I am still cutting and freezing (perhaps I picked too much), but after enjoying a dish of Rhubarb Crunch last night I feel the extra work is worth it. Come January when no local fruit is available, all the work will be forgotten and only the tangy taste of Spring will remain. I will be grateful to have it. (Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but most often treated as a fruit.)

RHUBARB CRUNCH

Ingredients

  • 6 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cane sugar depending on your liking - tart or sweet
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, white sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Add whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy your seasonal treat!



6 comments:

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

All of these rhubarb recipes I've been spotting are making me wish I had some. Do you know if it's a northern vegetable? I haven't seen it around here and haven't eaten it since I was a little kid in Idaho.

Lina said...

Ooh these look good. I second the morels. A friend gave us a bunch he foraged two weeks ago and we promptly battered and fried them. So so good.

The dehydrator seems like a great thing - where did you get yours? Do you use it a lot?

greeen sheeep said...

Erin, as far as I know rhubarb grows all over the place, North and South. I did a little digging around the rhubarb forums (who knew there even was such a thing) and apparently you are not the only one asking about rhubarb in NC. I guess it does well in the mountains, but can't handle the heat in other areas. Not sure of your climate there, but it gets plenty hot here in WI too. Although we have a nice long cold spell in the Winter.

greeen sheeep said...

Lina, I bought the dehydrator for my husband for Christmas. It's an Excalibur ordered off Amazon. We haven't used it a whole lot yet. Just dried some fruit for his granola and now the Morels, but it's been Winter and we haven't had anything to dry. I'm hoping to make good use of it this Summer. I see herbs drying, fruit, fruit leathers, bread, yogurt. Yep, bread and yogurt in the dehydrator. It has horizontal shelves that can be removed making room for large bowls. The fan is in the back and blows horizontally across the shelves too, so no rotating. I like it.

Levinson Axelrod said...

Excellent spring treats.

Condo Blues said...

I live in Ohio and my in laws have rhubarb growing in their garden. In fact, they paid me in some of that rhubarb for tilling their garden for summer planting!

I tried your rhubarb crunch recipe and it was a hit at my house! I remember not liking rhubarb when I ate it as a child, but I really liked it this way. My husband insisted we serve it over local vanilla ice cream after I pulled it out of the oven. Yum!

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